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Orioles or gladiolas - you make the call

May 11, 2001

Orioles or gladiolas - you make the call



This is a bad time to be a fan of that erstwhile baseball team that's known as the Baltimore Orioles. They used to be what was called a model franchise and now they're just, well, sort of a model.

I love the - as Howard Cosell used to call them - "Birds of Baltimore," but the Birds as I knew them have flown the coop. To put it frankly, they don't score a lot of runs. Joan Collins put more people on base than these guys, and I don't even know who Joan Collins is.

Through their first few games they were averaging a run every nine innings, which in soccer is Disneyland, but in baseball is not good. They were on a pace to hit fewer home runs as a team than Sammy Sosa generally does in a season.

There used to be something known as "The Orioles' Way," which consisted of good, fundamental players brought up through the farm system winning with pitching, defense and the three-run homer.

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Now the Orioles Way means Way Out of First Place. So you ladies in the garden club who are already bored with the column about sports? You're getting your revenge. I'd be better off sitting at home rooting for the gladiolas.

The other day I was watching an O's game and the announcer said Melvin Mora, Mike Bordick and Jerry Hairston were due up.

Mora scratched out a hit and I thought great, these table-setters may get on base for the heart of the order. Then I realized they WERE the heart of the order. OK, for the garden club, "table setters" are the scatter-hit guys who are supposed to get on base for the power hitters who are very strong and comprise the "heart of the order."

The "order" being the nine man batting rotation "scatter hitters" and "rotation" mean ... oh forget it. Go back to potting the petunias.

So anyway, in Baltimore this year, power hitting has been the equivalent of a 9-amp battery - or is it a 9-volt battery - what do I look like, an electrician? Reminds me of a Phillies game where the umpire called a ball on the first pitch and the pitcher and catcher argued so much they got tossed out of the game.

The manager said that was the fastest he had ever lost a battery since he parked outside Yankee stadium in The Bronx. All right, see, the "battery" is what baseball men call the combined pitcher and catcher, and the "Bronx" is - never mind. It is a pain in the neck having to write for such a broad audience.

Peter Angelos? It sort of speaks of a man when the best thing you can say about him is that he has a nice warehouse. At least he ran the Orioles into the ground in style - for a few years he bought the farm idea. Trouble was, he didn't have much of a farm system.

See, "farm system" is what you call - oh look, I'm not here to write a dictionary.

So anyway, last year they got baseball religion and went with a youth movement.

Their ads encourage a fan to come see "the kids" at the Yard.

Like who, Cal Ripken? He's my age, which is roughly 104. And as of last week he's the best RBI hitter they have going. He's had to carry the organization on his back for 20 years, poor guy. Good thing he got the ring early.

"Ring" means - ah, you probably know that one.

I have a friend who is a dedicated Yankees fan, and we used to get in discussions about the Baltimore-New York rivalry. But those heated debates have sort of lost their zap. A Mustang doesn't have rivalries with a moped. (Speaking of mopeds - Hagerstown's official city vehicle - I saw what I believe to be the quintessential Hagerstonian - she was, I swear, walking along picking up aluminum cans in a bag while talking on a cell phone.)

So for rivalries we're left with those hated Tampa Bay Devil Rays, who we lost to last night.

"Tampa Bay" is a city in Florida, or so I'm told. You may have to define that one for me.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist

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